They’re under 18, so they can’t gamble, right?

Up to 80 per cent of 13 to 17 year olds gambled in 2016, according to recent Australian research.

This includes gambling with friends, playing lottery tickets, raffles and sweeps. Despite age checks in venues and online, teens are also gambling on the pokies, racing and sports. For many young people, it isn't about the money – it's about fun, excitement and social acceptance.

Because they are often targeted by gambling advertising, betting can seem like a normal activity to them. Further to this, teenagers are reportedly five times more likely than adults to experience harm from gambling. Given gambling can become an issue for teens, we suggest talking to them sooner rather than later about the risks involved, the limited chances of winning and what might be influencing their attitude towards gambling. 

What if a teenager you know has already run into difficulty? It can be tricky to tell if a young person has a betting issue as many of the signs look like regular teen behaviour. Some signs to look out for include:

  • obsessing over apps and games that have gambling features
  • borrowing or taking money from family and friends
  • obsessing about odds when watching sport instead of focusing on the game
  • experiencing depression or severe mood swings, or withdrawing from friends and family.

If you notice these signs in your teen, you could call the Gambler’s Help Youthline for advice and support. Phone 1800 262 376 or visit

Dianne Martin

Deputy Head of Senior School


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